From time to time, we get people question our wine and prices, saying that they can get wine from the supermarket a lot cheaper. One man told me that he went to Aldi to buy a certain wine that he loved because he could get 6 bottles for £36. And that is absolutely his choice. What I wanted to look at here, is why you might want to consider buying wine from us (an independent wine seller) instead of buying supermarket wine.
To me, there are several clear reasons which I’ve listed below in no particular order:
- Support independent/local/small/vegan* businesses (*delete as applicable)
- Variety of wines
- Vegan credentials
- Sustainability focussed
To make a sweeping statement, supermarket wine is mass produced. It has to be. A supermarket is not going to get into business with a small winery who can only produce 3000 bottles of wine a year because it makes no sense commercially. Obviously mass produced does not have to mean bad quality. There are some very good wines out there that fall into this category.
Another sweeping statement; mass produced wines are likely to use more chemicals in the growing process and more sulphur during the production of the wine. If you are trying to create a product, in quantity, at a certain price, then you need to scale things up. This means you are more likely to use pesticides as a matter of course to ensure you get the biggest crop possible. Due to the size of the crop (and the likelihood that you are in a hot climate) you need to cover those grapes in sulphur the minute they are picked to ensure they don’t go bad before they get to the winery. In the winery, you are more likely to be liberal with the application of sulphur as it’s a preservative and can hide faults in the wine. This can also help with consistency, which is very important in mass produced wine.
Small scale wineries
In small scale wineries, chemicals are used more sparingly typically. Firstly, they are expensive and if they are not needed, then there’s no point wasting money. Secondly, you don’t do all the hard work involved in running a small winery if you don’t care about the end product. Typically, that means using chemicals and sulphur only when needed. About half our wines are classed as low sulphur and even the ones that are not, often do not have sulphur at the upper end of the permitted scale. Additionally, we have a lot of wines that don’t use any chemicals even though they are not organic.
Support independent/local/small/vegan businesses
Vegan Wine Box is based in Bristol, and consists of Emma and I. We are both vegan and we set this up to source great vegan wines and to make it easy for everyone else to do the same. So if you’re in Bristol (or maybe the South West at a stretch!), we are local. We are definitely small, we’re very independent and we are both committed to vegan lifestyles.
The big advantage of us being a small independent wine merchant, is that we do everything. Want a recommendation? Sure, let us know and we can help. We know our wines intimately (yep, it’s a hard job tasting all these wines, but we do it for you). Need your delivery on a certain day? No problem, drop us an email and we’ll just dispatch on a more convenient day for you.
We also like to support the smaller independent wine producers and help them to keep on doing what they do. So buying from us, also helps other independent wine businesses.
Variety of wines
We currently stock over 100 wines and we try to make sure we have a good mix of grapes and countries represented. We know we need the well known ones because everyone loves a Spanish Rioja, an Italian Pinot Grigio or a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. But we also look for different wines, grapes that are less well known but damn good. So we have Torrontés from Argentina, Tannat from Uruguay, Mon from Spain… just because they are great wines that we want to make available to our customers.
On this point, we do a monthly (or two monthly) subscription box, which makes it really easy to try different wines. We always choose wines from a mix of countries, grapes and styles to give you variety each time. It’s a great way to discover new wines and take the hassle out of choosing your own.
Like I said, we’re both vegan. We get it. We know what makes a wine vegan or not, and we only stock vegan wines. So you’re free to choose from our whole range, safe in the knowledge that they are all vegan. We are also part of the Vegan Traders Union, which is a great directory of other vegan businesses.
Finally, a really important consideration for us when buying wines is how sustainable they are. We have written a whole blog post on how we consider the sustainability of wine, which you can read here.